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Why a hobby is your secret weapon for success in 2024

The holidays are upon us! While it is a time for rest and recharging, look at using it as a time to explore a new hobby. Taking up a hobby is an underrated yet effective way to not only break away from work, but also learn a new skill and supercharge your personal development in the new year. If bringing better balance into your life and working on your personal and professional growth is on your New Year’s resolutions list, there might be an unexpected way to achieve these: taking up a hobby. Hobbies can help you develop new skills, build connections and lead to personal satisfaction and greater purpose. Read on for more reasons it’s a good idea to take up a hobby in 2024.

First, what counts as a hobby?

It’s any purposeful activity that you do regularly outside of work that brings you enjoyment or pleasure. Hobbies can range from gardening to embroidery to reading.

What are the benefits of hobbies?

There are numerous benefits of hobbies for your mental and physical health, as well as professional and personal growth.

Creative hobbies for destressing

A 2016 study looking at the link between art making and stress reduction found that the creative activity lowered 75% of participants’ cortisol levels (a stress hormone). The good news? Participants didn’t need to have any prior artistic experience or talent to reap the positive rewards!

Group hobbies to connect

Whether it’s joining a recreational sports team or taking up a group pottery class, hobbies that involve interacting with a group or community have been found to help people struggling with mental health to connect and recover. To add, they help build their self-esteem and, in turn, build resilience.

Skill-stretching activities for flow

When we’re actively learning something new, we experience flow, according to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This is an elusive, all-absorbing state in which time and self-consciousness seem to fly by. Pick up a hobby that challenges you or uses a completely different skill set to your work for a dose of active flow.

All the above has a knock-on effect on your professional growth, too. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been known to ask job candidates about their hobbies as part of the interview process. He believes having a hobby demonstrates passion and leadership, and that the added stress-busting and skill-growing benefits have a positive impact on work performance.

How do I find the right hobby?

As we go into the December holidays, use the extra time to explore your interests and curiosity to find a hobby that suits you. Here are some ideas to help you find the right hobby for you:

  • Start with something you enjoyed as a kid – there will be something that attracted you to that activity in the past that could hold true for you as an adult.
  • Sign up for a beginner’s course or free trial subscription for something you’ve been wanting to try out – it will give you a good sense of whether something is for you before committing time and money.

Don’t stop at one hobby – having a healthy mix of hobbies will help you achieve a range of benefits, from physical to social.

Don’t have time for a hobby? Here’s how to make time

Hobbies are only as sustainable as the time you set aside to practise them. Once we get back to our busy lives juggling work and personal responsibilities, time will be limited. Try these tips to carve it out for yourself:

  • Instead of squeezing your hobby into your life day-by-day, plan your week or month. You’re more likely to find free hours you can dedicate to your chosen activity.
  • Stick to those scheduled time slots. Set boundaries with the people around you and help them understand why that time is important to you.
  • Still can’t find time? Look at what you can replace with hobby time, like endlessly scrolling on social media or binge-watching series, for example.

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